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    Tommy's LA club colours

    Tommy Thornton is from Chicago, where his love of riding took root. In the last year, he took a break from a long career in business tech and moved to Los Angeles, looking for a change of pace and a new way of life.

    08 April 2019
    Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts

    As far as cycling is concerned, Chicago is fairly forward-thinking. But nestled at the foot of Lake Michigan, it’s also pan flat. As the tongue-in-cheek social tag has it, even if #LAsucksforcycling, it’s not short of a slope or two.

    “Riding up a mountain or in the hills, there’s a challenge to that. It took a while to get over my own anxiety of ‘am I strong enough to ride up this 10% grade of a hill?’”

    And there’s only one way to find out – by riding. You don’t have to race your bike, but every time you get on it’s going to challenge you in some way, test your legs, test your head. More often than not it’s the latter that gets in the way of the former.

    Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts
    Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts
    Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts

    Overcoming that apprehension, that fear, was rewarding. If I can climb this hill, climb over that mountain, what else can I do that I didn’t know? Not just on the bike, but off the bike. It’s one of the things I love about cycling. I think it’s a metaphor for life.”

    In Thornton’s case, the first cycling challenge he came up against was sat at his desk in Chicago.

    “It was a warm day in a particularly long working week. I had an office overlooking Lake Shore Drive. I remember seeing a guy head to toe in lycra on a bike on the path by the lake. It was the middle of the day and I thought, how is he able to do that when I’m in this office watching him? I want to be able to do that.”

    Most of us will have idly daydreamed from a desk, but Thornton ran with his – or more accurately, rode.

    Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts
    Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts

    “I think a lot of what cycling has brought to me, moving from Chicago to Los Angeles, is you do see people in the middle of the day surfing, running, riding their bikes, doing yoga outside. They’re creative types and business types, part of the engine that runs the city, getting things done. But I think there’s also a culture of not necessarily taking yourself too seriously.”

    Whether you take it seriously or not – and you certainly can, if that’s what you want – really embracing any pastime will eventually look for you to consider just how you spend your time.

    “It’s a lot more acceptable to say you want to take off some time in the middle of the day and go on a ride. Or like me, you want to take some time out from your career and get on your bike, find what drives you,” says Thornton.

    If the world is more competitive than ever, it’s arguably also more enlightened – a sabbatical doesn’t inspire the same suspicion from prospective employers as it once might have.

    Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts
    Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts
    Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts

    “I think that’s a lot more acceptable out here in California. I think right now, where I am in my life, I find myself not wanting to take life as seriously as I have in the past. That’s been an enjoyable part of the journey.”

    One of the great benefits of cycling is the community. Starting out in Chicago, it became a constant in Thornton’s life as he made the move west.

    “Cycling has given me a lot of perspective on things, the viewpoint of how do we look at life as a both a community and a group of people riding with people. Riding with a group makes the ride easier. Get in front to take some of the brunt of the wind and fall back and let someone else take the place. The entire group benefits from that effort. I think we could use a lot more drafting in this world – off the bike.”

    Today, Thornton rides alone, but the item he carries with him as a link to the group he rides with.

    “This Rapha Cycling Club cap represents one of the communities I’m part of. The RCC has been a group of friends and ride-mates who have looked out for me when I’ve needed help on the bike, and off the bike too. It’s lots of miles and smiles.”

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